Updated: Aug 25, 2021
We all know marriages are built on trust and communication. Yet we often don't think about trust and communication as skills that can be learned. Focusing on learning the skills of building trust and improving communication is one of the most powerful ways to grow the intimacy and connecting in your marriage. Today we are going to talk about a very specific format for having a powerful conversation and how it will help you. Having a check-in conversation could save your marriage by fostering both trust and communication. If your marriage is struggling, you can use this powerful tool to consistently grow your communication skills and see the way you relate with one another improve and even thrive.
An overview - What it is
I have created a process for you to follow, called the Couples Check-In Guide.
A check-in conversation is a regular, structured, intentional conversation you have with your partner. Regularly asking specific, helpful questions and deeply listening to your spouse is a powerful way to improve the health of your marriage.
Here are more details about what you are getting with the Couples Check-In Guide:
A checklist of questions. Following a checklist of helpful questions empowers you with a simple, intentional system for connecting.
You each take turns answering these questions and listening carefully.
Schedule it. What we spend our time on shows us what we value. One of the simplest ways to show you value your relationship is to schedule these intentional check-in conversations.
Start with the fundamentals, and read the questions off the list. Over time you'll build your skills. Use this guide as training tool until you have memorized and internalized these questions and you ask these questions as a regular part of your life.
Download the resource by signing up below.
To take things to the next level, learn how to identify what you need and connect more deeply with your partner.
Okay, so you understand what the check-in conversation is, now, why should you actually implement using it?
Why use it
It works. Plain and simple, what I'm going to share with you today has helped my clients out tremendously. I've had some couples say it is the most powerful tool they learned in therapy. It works, if you use it and learn the skills.
Structure leads to more predictable results. The couples check-in is essentially a checklist. Using a checklist is just plain smart. Surgeons use checklists to make sure they get things right when they do surgery. Why not use a structured checklist to intentionally improve your most important relationship?
Why leave the quality of your relationship to chance? Having a structured, simple process can deepen your intimacy.
It helps during a crisis. Many of my clients come to me when they are in crisis, when their marriage or relationship is struggling, or it feels like it is falling apart. Maybe they've tried everything else they know to do and need an expert to walk them through how to save their marriage even if they have no clue if it's even possible or if they are even unsure if they are still fully committed!
When you are in crisis it is difficult to think straight. The normal stresses of life can be overwhelming. Having a structured and a simple process can help build new, life giving routines to deepen your intimacy.
It builds trust. Many of the couples I work with are recovering from some form of betrayal and the pain, trauma, and confusion that follows. The Couples Check-In Guide will help you restore trust in your relationship. It can be helpful to think of building trust in a relationship as a skill.
How to build trust is an essential, necessary skill for a relationship to flourish. Suffice it to say, that having this check-in conversation gives you an opportunity to build trust and improve your emotional intimacy in powerful ways.
To build trust you need to consistently be vulnerable. If you have betrayed your partner, then being consistently transparent, intentional, specific, and willing to discuss vulnerable areas, especially the way you betrayed your partner, is essential to rebuilding that trust.
Let's say you were caught looking at pornography consistently and lying about it, and it broke your partner's trust and caused deep pain. Then moving forward, if you never initiate conversations about pornography and if you are still viewing it, or if you were tempted but didn't look, that doesn't build trust. Or if your partner has to bring it up for it to be discussed, then that doesn't build trust either. And if you respond in a defensive way when your partner does bring it up, then that can further damage trust and only makes things worse. Having a planned time to talk helps you be intentional and thoughtful in what you say.
It builds skills. We become what we practice. Do you have a practice for growing your trust and learning more about your partner? The check-in conversation guides you through getting positive reps in of working on the fundamentals of your relationship.
There are a number of specific skills you can improve on as you participate in the couples check-in:
Asking thoughtful questions. The depth of our relationships are determined by the quality of our questions.
Listening carefully to the entire message of what your partner shares in their answer.
Reflecting back what you heard. This is simple but not necessarily easy.
Feeling and dealing. In their excellent book How We Love Milan and Kay Yerkovich talk about the primary importance of learning to 'feel and deal' with our emotions. There is a direct correlation to the success and happiness of our marriage and the degree that we can feel our emotions, express them, and not let them control us.
Vulnerability. A part of 'feeling and dealing', being vulnerable with your spouse is a necessary skill for intimacy. It will also build trust and connection when you share vulnerably.
Celebrating the good. Gratitude and thankfulness is a skill that can be learned and practiced individually and community. By sharing what you are progressing in you
It builds closeness. Asking specific questions is helpful in getting to know anyone. Asking them regularly is transformative over time. Asking these questions of one another weekly helps you grow as a couple in deepening the ways you reflect together, listen to each other, and helps you continue to know one another more deeply as the time goes by. It's easy to drift apart over time, and intentional questions helps prevent that drift!
Get your Couples Check-In Guide by signing up to receive regular emails from me. I am committed to continue to add value to your life and your marriage and to be a resource for how you can grow more wisely.